14 Best Graphic Design Courses & Tutorials (FREE And Paid)

14 Best Graphic Design Courses & Tutorials (FREE And Paid)

You do not always have to spend years in higher education to learn new skills. Graphic design skills are in demand, and you can learn them online in a short time. 

While many of these courses cost money, one can also learn these skills for free. The cost of a paid graphics design course is, in any case, vastly less than a multi-year degree.

As the world becomes more digital, education becomes something that one does increasingly online. As well as schooling becoming more digital, digital skills are frequently in demand. 

Graphic designers are the illustrators of the internet age, using their skills to create the internet. You do not need a full degree in graphic design to work in this field. 

However, the courses one takes must be respected and of high quality. Not all online graphic design courses are created equal. One needs to have a respected graphics design certificate.

1. Udemy: Graphic Design Bootcamp: Part 1

Udemy is an excellent place to start if you want to learn new skills online. Many people who begin a new career by learning skills cheaply over the internet start at Udemy. 

While you can take many different graphic design classes at Udemy, you should start with a program that many others have finished and given positive reviews to. Taking a course that only has a few reviews is not a good idea. 

One of the best and most respected courses on Udemy is the Graphic Design Bootcamp, which has thousands of positive reviews. Tens of thousands of people have completed this popular course.

Many projects that involve Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator produce purely online media. However, these programs are often also used to create printed media. The Udemy course will train you to use these programs not only for digital media projects but for print projects as well. 

People often judge classes by the prestige of their instructors. The instructor, in this case, is Derrick Mitchell, who has worked for Nintendo, MTV, and Netflix.

You will learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign by designing projects that resemble projects completed in the real world. The assignments you will do in the Graphic Design Bootcamp are similar to the work employees do in the real world. 

You will learn how to create flyers and business cards that could be either used online or printed. Included with the small price of the course is access to a private facebook group that may help you find work.

2. Udemy: Learn Professional 2D Game Graphic Design in Photoshop

2D game graphics are not dead by any means. If there was ever a time in which 2D games seemed to be well on their way out, the mobile gaming industry saved 2D gaming, and it looks likely to be here forever. 

Many games look and play better with 2D graphics than with 3D models. With commercial 2D games still being a thing, you can always make money, creating 2D game graphics.

One thing that you should probably have if you want to make the most of this course is a drawing pad. Drawing pads are not expensive and will allow you to create graphics more quickly than you could with a mouse. 

While drawing graphics with a mouse can work, anyone serious about working in-game graphics should have the right tools. If you are sure that you are interested in the field, you should get a drawing pad before taking the course. 

You will need photoshop to take the course (a trial version is free) and should have light drawing skills before attempting this course.

The Professional 2D Game Graphic Design course is cheap and accessible, having taught new skills to more than 40,000 students so far. 

The course is taught by someone who has been designing game graphics since the age of 17. The course will teach you how to create game graphics from scratch and not by tracing or piecing together images.

3. Udemy: After Effects CC: Complete Course from Novice to Expert

Udemy’s After Effects CC course is relatively lengthy and aims to make a student a minor expert with the software. It is not merely an introduction to the course and will move the student from elementary to much more advanced projects. 

The course includes 20 small exercises, as well as a few larger projects. The course contains 22 hours of video, dozens of articles, and 47 resources. 

The course will take a fair bit of time to complete but is intended to make you an expert with the program. Since this is an advanced course with more than 440 lectures, it is of use to those with intermediate After Effects skills and not merely of use to newbies. 

Camera angles, lighting, 3D animation, how to import files made in other Adobe graphics programs, and masking effects are all covered here.

4. Udemy: GIMP Beginner-Advanced: Free Photoshop-like Graphic Design

You do not have to pay a monthly fee for Photoshop to use a program capable of creating professional quality graphics. Gimp is a program of comparable quality that is free. 

In spite of it being free and open-source, it still has a list of features to compare to Photoshop. Like Photoshop, Gimp can take some time to learn. If you learn Gimp systematically through an online course instead of by fooling around with different tools, you can learn a lot more in a shorter time.

Many courses are available for the same subject on Udemy, and you should choose a commonly used and respected program. While someone who takes a photoshop course for free will have to complete the course before the free trial runs out, you can take as long as you want with a Gimp graphics course. 

The course videos total 13 hours in length, split into 30-minute segments. Each segment covers a specific topic so that you can fully understand one subject before moving on to another. 

As well as teaching you to create high-quality graphics such as a book cover of professional quality, the course will teach you how to distribute memes on facebook.

5. Alison – Applying Design Principles

Alison’s Applying design principles will teach those who already know how to design graphics with a few different programs, the general principles of high-quality graphic design. 

You can learn how some colors, fonts, and logos are better for getting the viewer’s attention than others. A good website has a good color scheme, and you cannot be an expert web designer without a good understanding of color. 

Someone who already knows how to design graphics can improve their skills further by understanding concepts such as contrast and hierarchy. Best of all, this is a free course. For something that takes only a few hours to complete, it is an excellent return on investment.

6. Coursera – Graphic Design Specialization

Coursera’s Graphic design specialization program is amazingly lengthy for a completely free course. If you work at the course part-time, say four hours per week, it will take about six months to complete. 

The program consists of four courses, which focus on the basics of graphic design, typography, more advanced image-making techniques, and the history and terminology of graphic design.

The course is not mostly about how to use different programs; it is a more general course about how to link different skills together to become a graphic designer. 

Some would prefer to take shorter courses that focus only on how to use a graphic design program. However, those looking for a more general course in graphic design can hardly do better than taking this course for free.

The first course, “Fundamentals of graphic design,” will teach skills through practical projects and video lectures. The course shows the basics of image-making, composition, color/shape, and typography to the students in detail. 

The first course will also go through the terminology associated with graphic design and teach the student about the importance of visual contrast.

The second course will deal with typography, which is the art of intensifying the meaning of the text by changing its appearance. A sense of typography is a must for anyone who intends to succeed in graphic design. 

Students learn the skill of spatial organization so that students can systematically go about using text in the graphic design projects they go on to create. Students will complete three peer-graded assignments, including a full-size poster that requires skill at typography.

The third course is image-making, which is designed to be as hands-on as possible. One cannot learn to make good images merely by watching videos or reading articles, so the emphasis will be on spending a lot of time creating images. 

The fourth and final course is a history of graphic design, which teaches new graphic designers about how graphic designers solved different problems at different times, and how the standard practices of modern graphic design came to be. 

While the course is lengthy, it does give you a broad overview of everything required to be a graphic designer. Not only do you learn skills, but you learn enough about the discipline to know what skills you should acquire.

7. Udemy: Photoshop for Entrepreneurs – Design 11 Practical Projects

Probably there is not a single software that is more important for a graphic designer to master than Adobe’s Photoshop. After completing these eleven challenging but not very lengthy projects, you should be a minor expert with the software. 

The projects are practical and similar to work that employed graphic designers do. Graphics are created for social media and YouTube. You will also learn how to design a professional quality logo, create frame by frame gif animations, and improve the quality of images. 

Infographic design will also be dealt with during the program. After completing it, you should be able to say with confidence that you have Photoshop design skills.

8. Udemy: Adobe Illustrator: Mastering the Fundamentals

This is a short and to the point course that teaches a user the basics of Adobe Illustrator. If you plan to use Adobe Illustrator, often you need a lengthier course, but if you are only going to use Illustrator only on occasion, this course may be enough. 

The course has only 1.5 hours worth of video, plus text and assignments. However, the course is not as short or as easy to complete as its time suggests. 

The class gets straight to the point and gives the student a number of different exercises that will allow them to learn the basics of Illustrator. A lengthier course of lower quality will teach less than this course while taking much longer to complete. 

All of the information is sure to be information that you really need to know, and all of the exercises are sure to teach you skills you will actually use.

9. Coursera – Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding Specialization

When you think of graphic design, the first thing you possibly think of is creating websites. While graphic design skills are used for many online and offline image creation purposes, sites are nonetheless among the most important of them.

Unlike some other graphic design courses, the Coursera Specialization in Web Design involves learning to code. While more massive programming languages such as C# are not studied here, a web design student will learn HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript to be able to build websites. 

While you can build a website without learning any of these programming languages, far more understanding and far more customization are possible if you can write a web design code. The course is relatively lengthy and will take eight hours a week to complete in three months.

10. Skillshare Graphic Design Courses

While Skillshare primarily offers paid courses, you as, a new user, can access paid courses for free for one to three months. It is, therefore, an opportunity to acquire a lot of otherwise unfree knowledge if you want to learn as much as possible during their free trial. 

The Skillshare platform offers many different small graphic design courses that you might look through several of to learn the skills you are most interested in.

A video found on the Skillshare platform might talk about logo design followed by creating a recognizable brand and not merely a recognizable logo. You might also learn about classic pattern styles, such as damask patterns, and how to create them from scratch. 

One particularly interesting looking course is how to create isometric designs in Adobe Illustrator. You might also learn to create a digital calendar using vector images. You can be sure not to be bored when taking a variety of different courses as Skillshare because they have some of the most interesting courses on the internet. 

Skillshare may be best for people who already understand the basics of the software that are taught in their courses. It may not be best for those who are almost completely new to the software used.

11. EnvatoTuts+

This is an excellent website if you want to learn at your own pace and in your own order instead of following a course rigidly. EnvatoTuts+ does not offer a course in the usual sense. 

Instead, EnvatoTuts+ allows you to look through more than a thousand different tutorials that deal with many different graphic design topics.

12. Canva Design School

Canva design school offers a wealth of information to new graphic designers. The full “introduction to graphic design” course is worth taking. You should not merely look at a variety of different tutorials on the Canvas Design School site. The “introduction to graphic design” course will walk you through the basics of designing visually pleasing images.

13. Zee Institute Of Creative Art

The Zee institute of creative art is taught by some of the most respected graphic designers in the business. Their online courses involve learning from the same successful professionals. 

This is a lengthy online program that is designed to make you ready to work in graphic design. The graphic design program teaches 3D animation, Web design, Photography, and Marketing. 

You will also learn about multimedia and visual effects. The course is a challenge, but you should complete it with a variety of different graphic design skills. If you are looking for something lengthy and substantial, this may be the best graphic design online course available.

14. Graphic Design History: An Introduction

A professional graphic designer can sometimes benefit from simply knowing as much about their field as possible, and that includes its history. 

Graphic design has existed as a profession since long before the digital age, and many of the design concepts that existed before computers are still with us today. While this is not the first course you should take, you can learn much about how to create great art by studying its history.

A final note

While it does take time to learn enough to be able to do graphic design for a living, it is nonetheless possible to learn all of the skills you need online. 

If you have some impressive example projects to show to employers, they may be able to overcome the hurdle of beginning work in a new field without experience. Read, watch, and create as much as possible to build up your skills to the point where you can start working.

As well as courses, you might learn a fair bit from merely reading design blogs. As long as you are actively improving your skills, looking at design blogs is not a waste of time. 

You can learn more from taking courses and experimenting on your own than you can from reading blogs, but blogs still contain valuable supplemental information. 

And everything written on these blogs is free. Designerfix and FastCo Design are both places to start when looking for design blogs.

You might also read books on graphic design to get a more significant overview of the field. Courses and practice are the most important, but you can learn a lot from books as well. “Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the field” and the decades’ old “Interaction of Color” are both sure to teach you something you didn’t know before. 

“Interaction of Color” is particularly impressive. Much older than computer graphic design, the book is nonetheless still relevant for those who want to know about color in detail. An excellent choice of colors often makes a difference between a mediocre graphic designer and an excellent one.

When you are learning new graphic design software, you may end up merely fooling around with different tools without taking any courses. Some experimentation is fine, but this is not a better way of learning new software. 

You can learn much more slowly in this way. At first, take a free course that makes you aware of all of the different capabilities that the software offers. Then, to improve your skills further, you may want to do some free form experimenting.

What is more important than anything else is having a portfolio of unique sample projects to show to an employer. If you can show that you can create high-quality and exclusive content from scratch, you will be able to find at least freelance work, followed by full-time employment once you have some freelance experience.

And if you are entrepreneur minded like me, you stay the freelancer path and build your client portfolio bigger and bigger until it’s time to create your own graphic design online course and start getting passive income that way.

Related: How To Create An Online Course

Possibilities are endless, and this is only the beginning. And if you are looking for courses that an already experienced graphic designer should take or get familiar with. The below article is for you!

Related: World’s Best Online Courses For Graphic Designers

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.